Breaking news from Zambia:
Zambia detainees Philip Mubiana and James Mwape were acquitted today of charges of violating the Zambian law against homosexual activity, human rights activists report.
They had been in custody since May 5, 2013. They were arrested after family members reported them to police in response to a nationwide appeal to Zambian citizens to inform on alleged homosexuals. The men’s repeated applications for bail had been rejected.
The trial’s presiding judge, Kabwe Principle Resident Magistrate John Mbuzi, ruled that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He cited deficiencies in the forensic examinations of the defendants. He also noted that police did not find the two men in the act, but only arrested them in response to others’ allegations.
Juliet Mphande, former executive director of the human rights group Friends of Rainka, expressed thanks to the work of the defense team, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and to this blog.
“When I heard the news straight from the courts and heard James’ voice, I broke down,” she wrote.
“We have fought long and hard and this victory does not belong to us but to all Zambia’s sexual diverse and gender variant children.
“Your blog 76 crimes has contributed to saving not one, but two lives in Zambia today.”
Amnesty International called Mbuzi’s action the right decision for the wrong reasons.
“It is appalling that these men have spent over a year in prison awaiting trial charged with something which should not be a crime,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.
“To imprison people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation is unjust and a breach of international law. Amnesty International has always regarded these men to be prisoners of conscience.”
This blog’s previous articles about the case:
- Zambia report: Police arrest married gay couple (May 6, 2013)
- Zambia: 2nd arrest in 2 days for gay couple (May 7, 2013)
- Amnesty Int’l demands freedom for Zambian gay couple (May 8, 2013)
- Jailed gay pair in Zambia abused; at risk of rape, disease (May 9, 2013)
- Gay in Zambia: 6th week in jail for 2 awaiting trial (June 5, 2013)
- Zambian pair’s sentence could be 14 years for gay sex (June 10, 2013)
- Zambia: Sister and police testify against gay pair (June 11, 2013)
- On the scene in Zambian courtroom in anti-gay case (June 11, 2013)
- Zambia: Setback for prosecution in gay trial (June 24, 2013)
- 4th month in jail for gay couple facing Zambia trial delays (July 18, 2013)
- 5 months in Zambian jail as gay trial falters; no eyewitnesses (Aug. 30, 2013)
- Amnesty to Zambia: Release 2 men facing gay sex charges (Sept. 11, 2013)
- Justice delayed, justice denied for 2 in Zambian gay trial (Sept. 17, 2013)
- No bail, no trial; 5+ months in Zambian prison on gay charges (Oct. 19, 2013)
- ‘Our lives are in danger’ – new threats to Zambian activists (Oct. 24, 2013)
- In Zambia, ‘trial by ambush’ in anti-gay case (Oct. 28, 2013)
- No bail; 6 months in Zambian prison on gay charges (Nov. 9, 2013)
- 8 months in Zambian prison on gay charges; no bail (Jan. 23, 2014)
- 9 months in Zambian prison on gay charges; no bail (Jan. 30, 2014)
- Zambia’s growing intolerance towards LGBTI persons (Jan. 31, 2014)
- 10 months in Zambian prison on gay charges; no bail (March 4, 2014)
- Zambian LGBT rights at risk in May 30 verdict (May 21, 2014)
- Verdict delayed in Zambian anti-gay trial (May 30, 2014)
- Verdict delayed again in Zambian anti-gay trial (June 23, 2014)
- Zambia to West: Don’t watch when we jail LGBT people (June 25, 2014)
- Commentary: Let’s face facts about Zambian corruption (By Juliet Mphande, 76crimes.com)
- Zambia: Police raid suspected gays without warrants (76crimes.com)
- Zambia LGBTs seek liberties of ‘every other citizen’ (76crimes.com)
- 43 anti-LGBT violations in Zambia; ‘accident waiting to happen’ (76crimes.com)
- Zambian First Lady seeks dialog; media prefer gay-bashing (76crimes.com)
- Zambian advocate rebukes anti-gay clerics (76crimes.com)
- Zambia’s growing intolerance towards LGBTI persons (76crimes.com)
- Zambian gays face ‘unprecedented’ harassment (76crimes.com)
- Zambia risk: Clerics with gays’ blood on their hands (76crimes.com)
- Zambian activists seek halt to gay manhunt (76crimes.com)
- Justice minister wants no justice for Zambian gays (76crimes.com)
- Report: Two more arrests in Zambia for gay sex (76crimes.com)
- Zambia arrests activist after gay rights appeal on TV (76crimes.com)
- Zambian activist must stand trial for opposing anti-gay law (76crimes.com)